Swimming: good!

It was a bit of a rush to get to the pool last night and by the time the we were allowed in, the session was only 35 minutes long.  The shorter window of time focuses the mind though, so I actually had a better workout that normal.  

Still lots of breast stroke lengths, but mixed in a few crawl sprints and  was starting to cope better with my muscles demanding blood until I raced the last two lengths whilst clearly ignoring the staff blowing their whistles for the end of the session.

As a result I felt a little dishwaterish for a while afterwards, but by the time I went to bed the endorphins had licked in and I felt great!  Swimming: good!

Happy Niu Year

Hot on the heels of Burns Night this year comes Chinese New Year, or rather Niu year as it’s the Year of the Ox.

The calender, started by the Xia people circa 2,205 BC, is based on astronomical observations and celebrates the start of the Lunar New Year.  Each new year commences on the second New Moon after the Winter Solstice.  The Winter Solstice is when the apparent path of the sun reaches it’s lowest point to the horizon in the Northern Hemisphere, which is around December 21st.  Depending on the “age” of the moon at this point, the second new moon could arrive any where from 30 to 59 days later.   

In the calendar, days are measured by the duration of one self rotation of the earth, months are measured by the duration of the rotation of the moon around the earth and years are measured by the time it takes for the earth to rotate around the Sun.

Most people agree that this year is the 4706th year of the calender (or if you really want to be confused, it could be the 4705th or even the 4645th), but it is fortunately not recorded as a straight number, rather being broken down into two main cycles, one of 12 years (the Chinese animals) and one sexagesimal or of 60 years.  

The 60 year cycle is a combination of the 12 animals (Rat, Tiger, Dragon, Horse, Monkey, Dog, Ox, Rabbit, Snake, Sheep, Rooster, Pig),  the five elements (metal, wood, earth, fire and water) and either Yin or Yan.  

This year, starting 26th January 2009, is Ji Chou, the 10th year of the cycle and is Yin, Earth and Ox.

According to Feng Shui experts, it should be a much better year than 2008.  Last year (Earth Rat) was (apparently) marked by the instability of earth over water, whilst this year combines like elements, which portend peace, harmony and recovery.  It is a time for healing and reconstruction of the previous damage done to human relationships, ecology and economy.  Phew!

All that is left is for me to wish you Kung Hei Fat Choy… Congratulations and be Prosperous!

For further reading, look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_New_Year or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_calendar

Happy Burns Night

The prolific Scottish bard, Robert Burns, died on the 21st July In 1796, but is celebrated each year on the date of his birth, 25th January 1759.  250 years ago today.

I hope that the purists among you will forgive me for joining in with the following toast:

Happy Burns Night, mi gud Scottish lassies and laddies

‘joy ya’ haggis wi’ bashit neeps an’ champit tatties

Gud health ta all ya typsy lowland an’ highland lairds

An’ may the morning break easy on ya whiskey heads!

Ta the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns! 

Water run

The forecast was for wet weather today and I can’t say that I was particularly excited about going out into it this morning.  But I have faith in my gear and particularly in the ability of my Gore jacket to keep me warm in inclement conditions.

This is all very well, but before it had started to do this (it’s always cold when you first put it on) I had to run up the road into the wind with the rain biting at my face.  Fortunately I have a range of directions that I can go that are more sheltered, although coming across a tree that had come down across the path at least gave me pause for thought.

It was already clear that there was a lot of standing water, but just a little further on this point was reiterated… the small pond to the right of the path in the picture is normally a narrow channel.

For those sensitive souls who treasure their running shoes and keep them speck and span, this was not a day to be out and about.  In fact wellingtons or even waders would have been a more appropriate choice of footwear… it’s a good job that I care not about getting my runners wet and muddy.  

At one point I started to think about the ancient Britons and why they used to wash with mud.  Maybe it was not so much that they wanted to, but more that they were constantly covered in the stuff and just had to wash it off.  I suddenly realised that because the surface was more water than mud, my trainers were actually cleaner than they had been for an age (since new?)… strangely, the mud seemed to have migrated upwards and onto my calves!

There were several occasions when the mud tried to suck my shoes off (I’m not a great one for tightly lacing my feet in) and the mud eventually succeeded as I squelched across a field that seems to be wet even when the weather is dry.

In short, I ran out to the Royal Oak, across to Wivesfield and up through the woods to the top of Spatham Lane, then southeast and across to Wellhouse Lane, past the water tower and across the railway line, then north to the station and home again.  6.5 miles in 1 hour 10 is pretty poor going, but I did stop a few times to take photos and once to re-apply my shoe and tighten my laces.

I think I need to run more than once a week to really get back into the zone, but I’ve changed my work schedule so this is not so easy at the moment.  Maybe when the evenings get lighter… once the boys have come back from Prague and have finally worked out that I wasn’t there… maybe then I can safely increase my frequency!

And yet more toe chasing

Another visit to the public baths tonight, this time for about 55 minutes.  It would have been longer but they don’t start selling tickets until a nanosecond before the session starts.

I discovered that the others don’t swim as fast as they make out, only terrorising me when I’m cruising with my unusual breast stroke.  If I summon up enough energy to crawl along the pool, I end up peddling backward half way down for fear of chewing their toes.

There was an amusing moment when a large guy did a seated belly flop into the pool, swamping a girl nearing the end of the lane.  Her head completely disappeared under the bow wave… she must have swallowed the whole lot!  And the water didn’t taste too great either… I inadvertently tried some before I finished the session.

You don’t get this malarkey when you’re running!  Not sure whether that’s a good thing or not!


Nigel & Kristin, as our lovely house guests over the Christmas break, may well report me as being a lazy git.  And they would be right.  The only time I went into the great ‘cold & wet outside’ during the three weeks they were here, was to paddle up the River Cuckmere with Debbie, Kim and them on New Years Day… a really still, flat grey day.  This was the first time my little Kendo had seen the water for ahem… years, but start the year as you mean to go on… that’s what I say!

Since they returned to Seattle on the 6th, I’ve been hard at work catching up.  The first thing I did was to go wimmin (that’s swimming for those of you unaccustomed to my obtuseness) for half an hour… although Kim swore that I was only in there for 20 minutes before I dragged myself out like a jelly.  Since then I went a further two times, for 30 minutes and 40 minutes, with my muscles starting to remember the strokes that I worked on before my collar-bone was so rudely broken whist skiing three (?) years ago.  By the way, does anyone else think that the lane-swimming at the Triangle is slightly over-priced, with the evening sub-one-hour sessions being priced at £3.80?

And since this is a running blog, I thought it would be remiss of me not to do some of that too.  Last Sunday I ran out into the remnants of the cold weather and returned an hour and ten minutes later in the start of the warm spell.  I did the 7.1 mile loop out past Ote Hall, the pyjamas, Wivelsfield village, Hundred Acre Lane & woods, Ditchling Common industrial estate, the Magical Path and back across the Common.  It was delightful running weather and I even had to wear my shades.

Yesterday morning was so beautiful, it was almost spring-like here and we made the most of it by doing all our outside chores… although by the time I had washed the cars I was pretty much done in and the weather had turned cold.

It chucked it down with rain last night and I was not looking forward to running in a storm, but this morning dawned bright and clear again and it was a pleasure to don my running gear on and get out into it.  Despite the ongoing twice-daily chi-kung exercises and the swimming, I wasn’t sure that I felt any fitter than last weekend, so I ran the same route to see whether there was any time difference.  Alas not… the same 1 hour ten as before… 6mph.  Although, to be fair, the ground was a little more, er, liquid than last week.

The sun was streaming into the house when I got back and I just had to sit and soak up the rays.  Inside, of course!